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Neighborhood Nice

Collaboration Leads To Community Cleanup

Volunteers gather in a parking lot along Forest Avenue to participate in a community cleanup Wednesday. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Several community groups gathered to clean up the Forest Heights area Wednesday evening.

The community cleanup was a partnership between Zion Covenant Church, city of Jamestown, Jamestown Renaissance Corp., Jamestown Public Schools teachers and Chautauqua County Land Bank. There were about 35 volunteers, including Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist and Jeff Russell, At-Large city councilman.

Volunteers cleaned up neighborhoods from Washington Street to Linden Avenue along Forest Avenue. One of the main opener of the cleanup was McKinley Avenue, said Mary Maxwell of the Jamestown Renaissance Corp.

The leader of the community cleanup was Jim Cama of Zion Covenant Church. He said the church’s congregation was looking for ways to improve the city, so they contacted city officials about what areas of the city needed cleaning.

“Stronger neighborhoods make stronger cities,” Cama said. “This is amazing. We had a short timeline to prepare and plenty of people came out.”

Sundquist said he’s always looking for chances to improve the city.

“Whenever I get the opportunity to clean up a neighborhood or beautify a community it’s great,” he said.

Sundquist said city officials were thinking about starting a clean sweep program to target certain city neighborhoods for improvements. However, once the COVID-19 pandemic started, the program was delayed because it involved going door-to-door, which wasn’t possible because of the possible risk of spreading the infection. He said the program involves aspects of crime preventing to cleaning up a neighborhood to dealing with issues of mental health.

“It works on the entire neighborhood,” he said.

Gina Paradis, county land bank executive director, said the community cleanup is a way of getting to know some of the residents to see if they might want to participate in a new land bank program. For several months the land bank board has discussed starting a blight task force to improve city neighborhoods. The program involves volunteers going into specific neighborhoods in the city to clean up vacant properties. She said the volunteer crews will also do exterior improvements and lawn work at the vacant properties.

She added that neighbors of the vacant properties will be engaged to volunteer with the cleanup and exterior improvements.

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